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70 Years On, Memories Of Korean War Still Fresh For US Veterans

Reporter Reporter Ron Chang ㅣ 2020-06-24 18:19

The crew of the USS Hanson, an American destroyer that was deployed to the Korean War
The crew of the USS Hanson, an American destroyer that was deployed to the Korean War
[Anchor]

This week will mark the 70th anniversary of the Korean War, which has left the Korean Peninsula divided to this day, in a stalemate.

The conflict began on June 25, 1950.

A month later, American troops entered the war on South Korea's behalf.

Among them was Robert Nelson, who was an airborne ranger with the Army.

TBS spoke to Nelson and other veterans to hear about their experiences and memories of Korea.

Ron Chang has more.

[Reporter]

Robert Nelson, now 90 years old, says he remembers the war vividly, as if it was yesterday.

[Clip: Nelson: 00:15]
"I came to Korea in December of 1950. It was very cold. I stepped off the plane. All I could smell was garlic and fish. So that was at Gimpo Air Force Base."

Nelson was part of a cavalry regiment under the Eighth Army, and said he made multiple jumps from planes into enemy territory.

He recalled patrolling Panmunjom, a village that now straddles both Koreas across the Demilitarized Zone.

[Clip: Nelson: 00:25]
"Panmunjom was a little dinky town. I think our ranger company was pegged to guard the first tent that was put up there. Our ranger company put out patrols, well we sent out a patrol every day. We kind of knew where they were and you could come around and surprise them, an officer or somebody who had a little rank. You didn't waste them and you made them prisoners and take them back."

Another U.S. veteran, Agustin Ayala, served with the Navy on the USS Hanson destroyer.

As an engineer in charge of turbines, which he called the life of the ship, Ayala said he saw plenty of action on the water.

[Clip: Ayala: 00:22]
"We were sailing in the Sea of Japan mostly with the Seventh Fleet and then we had to go up to the Yellow Sea. We got so close enough to do some damage, blew up the railroad there right by the ocean. Our destroyer wasn't as big as the other ships. We could go in shallow waters and then we would meet danger. Day and night, we were always on watch."

Ayala not only made it out of the war, he's also a coronavirus survivor.

His son Julian, who now takes care of him, said he is proud of his father for his service to the U.S. and South Korea.

He said his father's past has helped shape his own life.

[Clip: Ayala: 00:15]
"The legacy that he left on us was to be kind, to do well, to do your best and always push to your goals. I'm always proud to tell others that my dad served and he helped others around the world keep their liberty and their democracy."

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